13 Feb 2024

Muriwai marks a year since Cyclone Gabrielle: 'It's been a hell of a time'

7:41 am on 13 February 2024
One of many houses on Domain Crescent in Muriwai destroyed by a slip

Muriwai was hard hit by the force of Cyclone Gabrielle, with two firefighters losing their lives. Photo: supplied by Jacco Foote

A resident of a storm stricken Auckland beach says the community has been given a life raft, a year after being hit by the deadly Cyclone Gabrielle.

Auckland's west coast was severely damaged during the cyclone last year, with landslips cutting off communities and levelling houses.

Two volunteer firefighters were killed in Muriwai when a slip hit the flooded home they were in.

Muriwai local Nicky said it had been an incredibly hard 12 months.

"All of us at Muriwai, we were left in limbo," she said.

"Definitely, we were all in shock, you definitely never ever expect that would happen to you, or that would happen in our safe little community."

It was only after the landslide she discovered there was a Building Act, Section 36 notice on her property - effectively a hazard alert which meant her insurance was void.

But she was eligible for a Auckland Council category three buyout.

"It's a big relief, I suppose we've got some direction now really," said Nicky.

"I'm not really sure where we're going to go, it's just all sinking in, I'm not sure what we're going to do but at least we can move on and move forward."

She said the community had stuck together throughout their ordeal.

"Thank you to the amazing community that we have hear and all the work that people have done to get us through it," she said,

"I don't really know where we're going to go, but if we leave it's going to be pretty sad to leave the community,"

"It was like a sinking ship for a while but we feel like we've definitely been given a life raft and we're sailing into the sunset."

'It's been a hell of a time'

Mike Hibbert from the Muriwai Stickered Residents Group said it had been a hellish year.

"It's been up and down," he said

"We've had to move into friends, into families houses, we've had to struggle with money to pay rent, we're still struggling with insurance companies, with EQC, it's been a hell of a time actually, really tough."

And it was not not over yet.

"A year on, most of us are still waiting for some kind of settlement on our claims, particularly around contents," said Hibbert.

"A lot of work has got to be done with insurance and EQC in the future to make this sustainable for Auckland as we carry on through these natural hazards in future. "

As of December, there were more than 57,000 insurance claims from cyclone damaged regions, with payouts totalling more than $1.2 billion.

Auckland Council deputy head of the recovery office Mace Ward said a lot of work was being done to ensure the city was better prepared for the next massive storm.

"From a transport point of view, there's over 800 projects around making roading more resilient, there's a significant investment in that area," Ward said.

"A significant in the blue green network is proposed of over $1.6 billion to really be able to cope with those future weather events in an unstable climate."

Blue green networks were systems of rivers and parks that give storm water a place to go, instead of through houses.

Ward said the recovery office was focused on giving residents clear information.

"The best thing we can do is provide people a pathway to recovery and that certainty around their property, often the most significant investment they have, one that they're really emotionally connected to, a community they live in, they've chosen to live there and chosen that particular home so offering them certainty about their future is so important," said Ward.

In Muriwai, a ceremony is being held to mark the one year anniversary of the deaths of Volunteer Fire Brigade firefighters Craig Stevens and Dave van Zwanenberg.

It will include the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to the two men, and a plaque marking the events of last year.

  • Auckland Council buyouts of flood-damaged homes get underway
  • Muriwai homeowner feels 'immense sadness' but also relief over council buyout offer
  • Auckland Council need to be in sync with flood-hit communities - owner of damaged home